In case you were wondering… believing me to be sickly, saccharin and bordering on Julie Andrews sweet in my posts (think the optimism of Mary Poppins and Maria Von Trapp,)… I am actually not the worlds chirpiest or most optimistic of people. Not naturally anyway. That is not to say that I don’t spontaneously burst into song sometimes, most days, any place. Last week Year 6 discovered the word Flibbertigibbet– and I couldn’t help myself but sing back ‘A Flibbertigibbet, a Whil-O-the Whisp, A Clooooown!’ (If you haven’t seen the Sound of Music you may think I’ve finally cracked up. Stick with me!)
I am known to be a panicker, a worrier, an obsessor! I over think and over analyse. When the exemplification materials came out last month I felt like Chicken Licken!! “The Sky is Falling!” But instead, I started to write. So far it has taken me on an exciting journey. I have seen the positive change in my own teaching practice and the small ways it has changed the mind-set of those closest to me. I am lucky though. I’m fortunate enough that on my ‘Chicken Licken’ days I am surrounded by a family and school family who are always optimistic; always cheering each other on; always picking each other up. They are the ones who cause me to have optimism to have hope. They are my inspiration.
When I went to look around my current school, ahead of an interview, the part that made me want to work there wasn’t actually the kids or the learning or the classrooms, although all were lovely. It was the staff toilet! Yes, a little weird I grant you. In the toilet was a noticeboard and on it were jokes, witty anecdotes, funny pictures. It was unexpected and made me laugh out loud. It made me think- I want to work here! I wanted to work in a place where the staff made each other laugh, where people made the time to boost and bolster each other. To hold each other up. It continues to be one of the things I love most about my school. There, I’ve said it. My secret is out.
Little did I know when I got the job 8 years ago the impact that it would have not only on my career but on me as a person. I have gone through some of the most stressful times in my life there: engagement, wedding planning, wedding, 2 babies, 1 kitchen renovation and 2 house moves. Likewise I hope that my colleagues can say that I have been there for them. It hasn’t all been plain sailing. In all of our lives there are peaks and troughs there are highs and lows. However I know that we will weather the storms together. We pick each other up, we look out for each other. There is ALWAYS a hug and some cake if it is needed.
I didn’t know that this was rare. Speaking to colleagues from other schools, they don’t necessarily feel this way. I have heard stories of people out for what they can get, claiming credit for others work and ideas, lack of sympathy and support from management. I couldn’t’ believe it. I felt sad that during these turbulent times not every teacher has a ‘school family’ to support, guide and protect them.
When I was an NQT I was told to move on after two years. ‘Don’t stay if you want career progression!’ ‘To be a good teacher you need to experience different schools.’ Maybe there is some truth in that, I don’t know. I feel that I continue to grow and develop as a practitioner despite working in the same school. I feel I would have a lot to offer another school should I ever choose to leave. However, if I had heeded that advice, if I had kept moving, then I believe I would have lost far more than I could have gained.
There is something special about our school. It is an old village school. Most of our children live in the village. We have members of staff who came to our school. Parents aspire to work with us. We have home grown both TA’s and teachers from the community. We have had TA’s who have returned to us as teaching staff. I met my best friend at work, she is now my son’s Godmother and I am Godmother to hers. We are neighbours, friends, colleagues and family. I think we are special. I think we are rare and I think we are worth celebrating.
I too have changed. I have been moulded, influenced and shaped by the people I have worked with, the children I have taught and the parents I have met. Like a family they celebrated with me, commiserated, laughed and cried with me. Supported me in the tough times and been honest with me when I have sought advice. At times there has been tough love- I needed it- it made me better. At times there were kind words- I needed it- it made me stronger. At times there was cake- I needed it- but it made me fatter.